Home Business Delhi excise policy scam: ED arrests Kejriwal, SC likely to hear plea today | India News

Delhi excise policy scam: ED arrests Kejriwal, SC likely to hear plea today | India News

Delhi excise policy scam: ED arrests Kejriwal, SC likely to hear plea today | India News

New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addresses a press conference on the implementation of Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, in New Delhi, Wednesday, March 13, 2024. (Photo: PTI)

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was arrested on Thursday night by the Enforcement Directorate (ED)on charges of money laundering and corruption in the 2021-22 Delhi Excise policy case.

In the evening, ED officials, along with the Delhi police, reached Kejriwal’s residence and, following a brief interrogation, arrested the Chief Minister around 9:15 pm, amid loud protests by the AAP supporters.

The arrest comes after multiple ED summons to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convenor. Earlier on Thursday, the Delhi High Court refused to grant relief to the Delhi CM against any ‘coercive action’ by the agency. The court posted another hearing on April 22 on Kejriwal’s plea seeking immediate relief. “We have heard both sides, and we are not inclined at this stage,” a Bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Manoj Jain said.

Seeing no respite from the Delhi HC, the AAP convenor moved the Supreme Court against the HC’s decision. Led by senior advocate A M Singhvi, Kejriwal is seeking an urgent hearing in the top court.

AAP leader Atishi Marlena asserted that Kejriwal will remain the Delhi Chief Minister and run the government from prison if necessary. “…We have always maintained that Arvind Kejriwal will continue to govern from jail. He will remain the CM of Delhi. We have filed a case in the Supreme Court, and our lawyers are preparing for an urgent hearing tonight,” she said.

However, the SC declined the urgent midnight hearing plea by the AAP leaders, and no special Bench was set up.

Arvind Kejriwal’s arrests leads to protests

The AAP workers protested outside the CM’s residence in Civil Lines amid tightened security. The party’s Delhi unit convenor, Gopal Rai, called for nationwide protests against the BJP on Friday. According to reports, the AAP leaders will start the protest at 10 am at the BJP headquarters and eventually spread across the country.

Soon after his arrest, AAP supporters across the country started protests. In Odisha, AAP supporters sat on an indefinite strike against the ED’s action. In Mumbai as well, AAP workers were on the street demanding justice for Kejriwal. The police resorted to force to disperse the protesters, the AAP alleged this morning.

In a midnight press conference, Atishi Marlena, Rai, and AAP’s Rajya Sabha MP Sandeep Pathak condemned how the Delhi CM was arrested. “Arvind Kejriwal is not a person. Arvind Kejriwal is an idea. If you arrest one Arvind Kejriwal, thousands more will rise across the country to save democracy and the Constitution of India,” Atishi said.

Arvind Kejriwal’s arrest leads to political outcry

Many Opposition leaders came out in support of the Delhi Chief Minister and launched an attack on the BJP. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling him a dictator who is suppressing dissent and destroying democracy in the country. AAP leader Raghav Chadha said that the country is in an undeclared state of emergency.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also criticised the Centre in a social media post. “The arrest of Delhi Chief Minister @ArvindKejriwal is outright vicious and part of a callous plot to silence all Opposition voices just ahead of the general elections. This exposes the cowardice of those who fear the democratic process and calls for collective action to resist abuse of power,” he tweeted on X (formerly Twitter).

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor also condemned Kejriwal’s arrest. “Shocked by the news of the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister @ArvindKejriwal. Coming hard on the heels of the crippling freeze on @INCIndia’s bank accounts, it is clear that a systematic effort is on to subvert Indian democracy during our general elections,” he posted on X.

A string of arrests in Delhi excise policy case

With Kejriwal’s arrest, three top leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi have been put behind bars. Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia was arrested in February 2023 in relation to the Delhi Excise Policy case, while former minister Satyendar Jain was arrested in a case related to money laundering.

In addition to the AAP leaders, the ED also arrested K. Kavitha, daughter of former Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, in Hyderabad on March 15 in the Delhi Excise Policy case.

Till now, the ED has made 16 arrests and attached assets worth Rs 128.79 crore in this case.

Timeline of Kejriwal’s arrest:

November 2021: The new excise policy is implemented by the Delhi government, aiming to reform the sale and distribution of alcohol in the city, drawing ire from different segments for promoting risky health habits.

July 2022: After Delhi’s Chief Secretary expressed concerns about significant policy violations, the Delhi Lieutenant Governor ordered a CBI probe.

August 2022: The CBI conducts raids targeting the then Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and three others. Soon after, the ED starts a money laundering case related to the liquor policy.

September 2022: Vijay Nair, the Aam Aadmi Party’s communications head, is arrested by the CBI.

February 2023: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrests former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.

March 2023: ED arrests Sisodia

October 2023: AAP leader Sanjay Singh is arrested by the Enforcement Directorate. The probe agency issues its first summons to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

December 2023: ED issues second summons to Delhi CM.

January 2024: ED issues third and fourth summons to the AAP convenor.

February 2024: ED issues four summons to Kejriwal on Feb 2, 14, 23, and 27, respectively. Kejriwal refuses to appear before the agency.

March 16, 2024: Bharat Rashtra Samithi leader K. Kavitha is arrested by the ED

March 21, 2024: The ED issues a ninth summons to Delhi CM, and the Delhi High Court denies him protection from arrest. ED arrests Kejriwal from his residence at night.

First Published: Mar 22 2024 | 9:29 AM IST